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‚Sefer Maharil‘ im Lichte der Rezeptionsästhetik

Vladislav Slepoy

Pages 47 - 69

The paper scrutinizes to what extent the concept of the reader-response theory (Rezeptionsästhetik) may be used as an explanatory model for the literary development of a medieval Halakhic work. The study focuses on Sefer Maharil, written in the second half of the 15th century by R. Zalman of St. Goar based on the teachings and religious customs of his master, R. Ya‘aqov Molin (Maharil). In the course of his literary activity, the author presented various versions of his book, six of which have survived as autographs. Sefer Maharil received a wide – positive and negative – reception during the life of its author. One of the book’s sharpest critics was R. Shim‘on, a son of Maharil, who left his remarks on the margins of one of the early versions of the book. These remarks are characterized by their rejection not only of single elements of the book but of the book as a whole. Such ultimate rejection may be considered as a typical reaction of a reader who was in doubt about the author’s trustworthiness as a mediator of the teachings of Maharil. The paper shows how the author – possibly – reacted on this criticism by taking into account the expectations of his future readers.


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